Billed as “Elitarian Undead Rock”, the Italian theatrical rock outfit known as The Mugshots have slowly been carving out a name for themselves in their native country. However, with their latest release, the mini album entitled Love, Lust and Revenge, it appears that they have their sights set on bigger things.
Originally conceived in New York City back in 2001 by head mugger and lead vocalist Mickey E. Vil after listening to Alice Cooper’s 1983 DaDa album, E. Vil has spent the ensuing years perfecting the bands unique brand of horror influenced, shock rock. Picture the visual look of The Misfits, complete with skeletal patterned makeup, and throw in a hearty dose of Iggy Pop’s attitude, along with creepy synth washes and that will give you better of idea of what to expect from these sonic ghouls.
In a fitting pairing, the band enlisted the help of the late Dick Wagner, whose vital contributions as a bandleader, writer and guitarist, played a pivotal role in propelling Cooper to superstardom as a solo artist in the mid 70’s. Clocking in at a shade under thirty minutes Love, Lust and Revenge takes a somewhat more subdued, almost subversive approach from the sound of their past efforts, however with Wagner’s guiding hand, this is a definitely a good thing as they have definitely expanded their sonic palate in the process.
Opening track “Nothing At All” kicks off with some nice cascading piano notes, before gradually shifting gears and blossoming into a magnificent, full blown piece of dark, cinematic rock as E. Vil spins his remorseless tale of murder, overtop the lush background vocals and layered musical arrangement. This song perfectly lays the groundwork for the rest of the album and the next two tracks “Under My Skin” and “Curse The Moon” stylistically continue along the same path. The second track in particular is highlighted by some scorching lead guitar work courtesy of The Maestro himself. The mid tempo “Free (As I Am) changes things up a bit and is worth mentioning just for its gorgeous, melodic hooks and infectious chorus. I would definitely have to say that this is probably the strongest (and my personal favorite) track out of the six offered up here. What better way to tie up this mini masterpiece than with a closing tip of the hat to the original parties involved and the album that influenced it all. The band offers up their take on “Pass The Gun Around”, which was the final track on DaDa, and man do they turn out a stellar version that, dare I say almost comes close to topping the original.
Sadly, there will be no further collaborations due to the tragic passing of Dick Wagner earlier this summer, however with Love, Lust and Revenge The Mugshots have definitely learned from and made the most of their experience working with Wagner. They’ve taken a significant step forward in all major areas and it will be interesting to hear where they take things from here.